September 20, 2023
This article originally appeared on the eastongazette.com website
I was a public-school teacher.
I sent my two kids to private school for eight years and then had them finish the last four in the local public high school.
I chose a private school for my children because I was seeing so many things going on in the local public schools that would keep my kids from getting the education basics I knew they needed to have a successful life.
When my husband and I made that decision it was more a matter of overcrowded classrooms, whole language reading, and a disregard for tried-and-true, sound instruction. And, by the way, what was taught wasn’t decided by the teachers, it was the whims of the administration in our district at that time.
I’ve never regretted that choice.
I had no idea that public schools would be invaded by insanity in the twenty plus years later. Throughout the pandemic, the public schools ran slipshod over the needs of their students, shut schools down and moved to hastily prepared “virtual” learning, mandated that students sit for 8 hours a day (if you include bus rides to and from school) in unhealthy and mentally cruel masks, allowed non-medical personnel to illegally test and quarantine kids, and usurped the rights and responsibilities of the parents.
I had no idea that school curriculums would turn away from content knowledge and skills and turn to dividing students by race and confusing them about gender. I had no idea that pornographic material would be on the shelves of school libraries and schools would fight to keep them there.
And now, the madness continues while state test scores stagnate or drop. Now kids can be counseled that they are not the gender they think they are by school personnel who keeps this info from parents. Some states openly state that parents should be kept from knowing the struggles their children are suffering.
After being called terrorists for speaking up at Board of Education meetings, parents have decided enough is enough. Many have decided to head for private schools where they anticipate more input and control over what is taught, better discipline, more focus on academic achievement and less inclination to cave to useless Covid measures and wild activist programs and teachers.
Pre-plandemic, there were roughly 50.8 million students enrolled in public schools and only about 5.8 million in private schools. Many parents thought the public schools were doing a fine job with their children. At the very least, they couldn’t see how there was a big enough difference between public and private school education to justify the average private/parochical school tuition of $11,000 a year investment, especially when local taxes that those parents pay support the public school system in their area.
In fact, many private/parochial schools were losing ground in attendance to public schools.
Suddenly, with the pandemic, private/parochial schools started to gain ground. They started offering more financial assistance to parents, hoping to capitalize on the sudden interest from the public. They knew that if they could get the kids in the door, follow through on parents’ hopes for a strong education and disciplined environment, and do their job correctly, those students and families would be more likely to stay. In some more highly priced schools, 75% reduction in tuition was offered.
In 2020, upwards of three million students were suddenly absent from public schools. Half a million of them were kindergarten children whose parents did not want their non-reading children chained to virtual learning. In the Fall of 2021, an additional 1. 5 million joined the others in the public-school exodus. (2)
Seeing the trend, private school administrators, who tend to view the parents of their students as customers, were busy talking to parents, accepting their input, trying to make sure they were meeting their needs.
But, like so many who can’t sustain a good, successful model, it seems as though the private/parochial schools are starting to work REALLY hard to kill their golden goose.
It started with the local parochial school attempting a mask mandate. No one is quite sure, but rumor had it that threats had been made from the public sector that they would release a story that Catholic Schools didn’t care about the safety of their students. Say what you want about the public schools, but they weren’t going down without a fight. It worked.
The Archdiocese caved, much to the dismay of the parents who had already signed enrollment contracts. On top of that, parents found that their kids were being subjected to the same classroom bully tactics regarding the vaccine from Covid Cultist teachers as public-school students. Sometimes they were asked to raise their hands if they had been vaccinated so teachers could point out and publicly shame those who weren’t. Other times the teacher virtue signaled her achievement of getting stuck with an injection that is neither safe nor effective and then placed a big old value judgement on those who hadn’t. There were videos shown in class from CNN promoting the vaccines.
And let’s not even discuss the school “medical” staff who found it necessary to “quarantine” cupcakes brought in for student birthday celebrations just in case Covid was lurking in the icing. (I must admit, it is a clever way to get extra snacks if the staff wants them.)
In fairness, when enough parents complained, these practices stopped, at least temporarily.
Other private schools in the area did equally stupid things. One parent was threatened with their child being removed from her school because the parent spoke out about mask and vaccine mandates in a meeting.
Schools were promoting overt racism and instruction in sexual preferences in their classrooms too. It didn’t matter what parents paid; they still got a hidden agenda. That local school my kids once went to? The headmistress listed her “preferred pronouns” at the bottom of her emails and referred in a meeting to the population of our area with the characterization of us being stupid and backward. Seriously? What a difference 20 years makes.
Imagine writing a check for $16,000 a year for THAT! There are more examples.
For one, there is this story from a parent whose child attends an exclusive parochial school outside Baltimore:
The parent in this story discovered that “social justice” i.e. CRT, and some vague gender ideology was being taught in a required class but was being billed as a religious class. Here are some excerpts from the story in Epoch Times:
“My daughter came home yesterday and said she was confused,” she recalled. “When I asked her to show me what confused her, she wouldn’t show me. That’s because she knows it’s something I won’t want to see. You shouldn’t want to hide things from your parents.”
The parent did not disclose her name because she feared for retaliation. She goes on in the article to describe the ambiguous grading practices of the course and some of the troubling discussion topics. Also from the Epoch Times:
Michelle Christman, a JC alumnus and 2022 candidate for state senator, says she isn’t a fan of “social justice warrior programs.”
She also doesn’t like that the school appears to be hiding things from parents.
“The school needs to be transparent,” she told The Epoch Times. “When you’re talking about a private school, a parent is paying for that. There needs to be clarity as to what is being taught. Especially in today’s day and age.
“We are absolutely seeing what these social justice warrior programs have done. They’re taking the United States’ history and sweeping it under the rug. Children don’t even understand what freedom is, or what’s in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights.”
Ms. Christman is also alarmed that parents such as Mrs. Fletcher are reticent to come forward publicly.
John Carroll High School charges $20,000 a year for children to get a “Catholic” education.
Parents whose children are enrolled at Salisbury School in Salisbury, Maryland can relate. The other night at Back to School Night, parents and students were greeted by the following poster in the doorway to a science teacher’s classroom:
Maybe this poster doesn’t bother some, but it is in the doorway to a CHEMISTRY classroom where students are supposed to learn CHEMISTRY, not gender ideology. Perhaps this teacher was trying to show support for LGBTQ+ people, but that is not her job. Her job is to teach chemistry to ALL students.
A student who saw this poster in the doorway to their teacher’s classroom commented that he/she didn’t care about people’s gender or sexual preferences, but he/she just wished teachers would allow kids to learn about the subjects they teach, not some ideological stuff. The student feels uncomfortable constantly having sexual identity and preferences shoved in his/her face.
While this teacher has a right to her private opinion about these issues, it is NOT her right to foist them upon students, especially when the comments on this poster make many students feel uncomfortable and unaccepted. Can an average student who is not LGBTQ+ expect fair treatment from this teacher? Who knows. But, kids will make an assumption that they cannot.
What can a parent do?
Across the country, parents are beginning to sue private schools for breach of contract when those schools teach CRT, DEI, gender ideology.
As the article states, parents generally sign contracts with private schools before handing over anywhere from $16000 to $50000 a year for their child to be enrolled. What happens after that is often subject to change (from Fortune):
When Jerome Eisenberg enrolled his daughter at the Brentwood School in Los Angeles, where Adam Levine met some of his Maroon 5 bandmates, the investment manager says he expected her to get a traditional liberal arts education.
But after the murder of George Floyd, the $50,000-a-year school said it was reimagining its purpose “with an eye toward anti-racism” and diversity, equity and inclusion, or DEI. In Eisenberg’s view, Brentwood was pulling a “bait and switch” on parents. He sued the school last year for breach of contract, civil rights violations and emotional distress.
The results of suits have been mixed (from Fortune):
Parents determined to challenge private school teaching and policies face a number of obstacles. Public school parents can argue that the government is infringing on their First Amendment rights by forcing DEI or similar instruction on their children. Parents largely waive those rights when they enroll their kids in private schools.
“Private schools are bound by their own policies and not the US Constitution,” said Jennifer Rippner, a law lecturer at Indiana University, Bloomington’s School of Education.
When parents do sue private schools, it’s usually for breach of contract, according to New Hampshire education lawyer Linda Johnson, who represents independent schools and consults with them on managing their legal risk. The process sometimes starts off with “a 10-page, single-space letter addressing everything that the parent thought the school did wrong to try to justify a repayment of tuition,” she said.
Many of the disputes arise out of school disciplinary action, Johnson said. In the current environment, that can have political overtones.
Those parents who don’t win move their children to other schools or homeschooling. But, they can find allies in their cause, groups such as Parents Defending Education and Moms for Liberty. Those groups understand that parents don’t send their children to any school, much less private schools, to have them taught distorted values and causes that don’t align with their parents’.
“We have a nation that’s awake now to the rampant educational failure that’s happening in our schools, and the fact that they’ve become indoctrination centers instead of places of learning,” said Moms for Liberty co-founder Tiffany Justice.
For now, parents need to be very careful when signing that enrollment contract with a private school. They need to get assurances that their child will get the academic education they will pay for and not indoctrination. And, if that isn’t the case, then they need to be ready to fight back or make a change.
Disclosure: The author of this article is a chapter chair for Moms for Liberty.
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Jan Greenhawk is a former teacher and school administrator for over thirty years. She has two grown children and lives with her husband in Maryland. She also spent over twenty-five years coaching/judging gymnastics and coaching women’s softball.